The beginning of accountability in Egypt?

Shoshana Bryen
Here's an odd story:

On 2 August, the government of Israel publicly warned Israelis to leave the Sinai because it had information about potential terrorist activity.  On the 4th, the U.S. government followed suit.  On the evening of the 6th, the attack came - not against Israel at first, or against Americans, but against an Egyptian military outpost where soldiers were having their Iftar dinner.  Sixteen Egyptian soldiers were killed, their vehicles commandeered and the terrorists set off for an Israeli Bedouin military base in the Negev, hoping to draw Israel and Egypt into war.  Israel thwarted the attack.

That's not the odd part.

In the aftermath, one of the most interesting developments came from Egyptian blogger Dalia Ziada.   Ziada, a liberal political analyst and activist in Cairo, is Executive Director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, one of the oldest and largest human rights/civil liberties NGOs in the Arab world.   She wrote in her blog that Israeli authorities had shared their information with Egyptian intelligence, but the intelligence agency had failed to act.  Why, she wondered aloud, did the Israeli government take care of its citizens and the Egyptian government did not?

Two days later, without reference to Ziada, Mourad Mwafi, Chief of Egyptian Intelligence, acknowledged that he had information in advance of the attack and had not taken action.  President Morsi fired him.  In a Rahm Emmanuel moment[1] that may bode ill later, Morsi also fired the commander of the presidential guards, the Cairo security chief and the head of the paramilitary central security police. He asked the Defense Minister to replace the commander of the military police, but it hasn't happened.

Morsi was also prompted to engage with his Defense Minister and order the first real Egyptian military activity against jihadists in the Sinai since the beginning of the revolution.  Israel is watching with some satisfaction.

The revolution was started by liberal, secular Egyptians protesting the lies and corruption of an unaccountable government. While the power of the liberals has been vastly diminished by the Muslim Brotherhood's organizational tsunami, if Dalia Ziada and the blogosphere remain connected to their sources, it may prove impossible for the new government to ignore them.  Mwafi wasn't fired for taking information from Israel, but for not using it to protect Egypt.

The revolution may, in fact, not be over.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was formerly Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA and author of JINSA Reports from 1995-2011.


[1] It was Emmanuel who said, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

Here's an odd story:

On 2 August, the government of Israel publicly warned Israelis to leave the Sinai because it had information about potential terrorist activity.  On the 4th, the U.S. government followed suit.  On the evening of the 6th, the attack came - not against Israel at first, or against Americans, but against an Egyptian military outpost where soldiers were having their Iftar dinner.  Sixteen Egyptian soldiers were killed, their vehicles commandeered and the terrorists set off for an Israeli Bedouin military base in the Negev, hoping to draw Israel and Egypt into war.  Israel thwarted the attack.

That's not the odd part.

In the aftermath, one of the most interesting developments came from Egyptian blogger Dalia Ziada.   Ziada, a liberal political analyst and activist in Cairo, is Executive Director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, one of the oldest and largest human rights/civil liberties NGOs in the Arab world.   She wrote in her blog that Israeli authorities had shared their information with Egyptian intelligence, but the intelligence agency had failed to act.  Why, she wondered aloud, did the Israeli government take care of its citizens and the Egyptian government did not?

Two days later, without reference to Ziada, Mourad Mwafi, Chief of Egyptian Intelligence, acknowledged that he had information in advance of the attack and had not taken action.  President Morsi fired him.  In a Rahm Emmanuel moment[1] that may bode ill later, Morsi also fired the commander of the presidential guards, the Cairo security chief and the head of the paramilitary central security police. He asked the Defense Minister to replace the commander of the military police, but it hasn't happened.

Morsi was also prompted to engage with his Defense Minister and order the first real Egyptian military activity against jihadists in the Sinai since the beginning of the revolution.  Israel is watching with some satisfaction.

The revolution was started by liberal, secular Egyptians protesting the lies and corruption of an unaccountable government. While the power of the liberals has been vastly diminished by the Muslim Brotherhood's organizational tsunami, if Dalia Ziada and the blogosphere remain connected to their sources, it may prove impossible for the new government to ignore them.  Mwafi wasn't fired for taking information from Israel, but for not using it to protect Egypt.

The revolution may, in fact, not be over.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was formerly Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA and author of JINSA Reports from 1995-2011.


[1] It was Emmanuel who said, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."